Best English boarding schools

Boarding School Lessons in Britishness

With so many foreign pupils come problems. On a personal level, a child far removed from family is vulnerable to homesickness. While English boarders may be able to escape school for the night, weekend or half-term at home, such excursions are not viable for a pupil from Beijing.

Daily life at Westonbirt

There is also the culture shock. Subomi at Westonbirt says she found the isolation of her boarding school difficult. When she arrived at Westonbirt, she went a whole week unable to speak to her family because she did not know how to get a Skype connection.

Technology can shrink the distance from home. Mobile phones, Skype and WhatsApp may lessen the pangs but can sometimes exacerbate them. A teary email from a child after flunking a maths exam might escalate in a way that it would not if the parent could talk to the child at the kitchen table.

The demands of the English education system can require a big adjustment, too. Subomi says she has occasionally found adapting difficult. “The way we learnt [in Nigeria] is, you learn it, not particularly understand or apply it. You’re not asked to explain or evaluate. I struggled when I had to give my own opinion. [In Nigeria], black is black and white is white. But here you have to explain why black is black.”

She still has problems with the food, though. Two of her friends are drawn into the conversation about school lunches. Sixteen-year-old Lucrezia Antinori from Rome says that when she first spied the cream on puddings she thought it was “gross”, but now she is rather partial to it. Chloe Au, 18, from Hong Kong, longs for Sunday roasts. “I love Yorkshire pudding, ” she says.

Rogue agents and advisers preying on parental anxiety can also be problematic. Some agents are paid on a commission basis, placing their charges in unsuitable schools simply to earn the cash. Another trick is to persuade parents to keep moving children to different schools. With each move, the agent charges another commission — a process Ms Dangerfield describes as “handbag shopping”.

Ms Hamlyn says many agents are “completely unscrupulous [and] have never even been to the UK”, so are in no position to recommend schools. She remembers one call from a Chinese mother who said she had heard Harrow was the best school and wanted to send her daughters there. No one had told her the school was exclusively for boys.

Guardians provide a home away from school at weekends and half-terms and if a medical emergency arises. Many are nurturing hosts but, as with rogue agents, others are just in it for the money. Stories are rife of ruthless guardians packing children into rooms with numerous bunkbeds. Ms Dangerfield came across one who only let his charges use the bathroom for seven minutes in the morning and made no effort to include them in home life. Consequently the girls did not leave their room for a whole weekend.

Interesting facts:

Fultang Bilingual High School is a private bilingual (French and English) secondary school high school in Nkongsamba, Cameroon, founded in 2003 by Fultang Blaesius Nkwain.
The school is found in Nkongsamba, located in the central west of Cameroon. It is mainly a...

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